05 March 2005

l want to tell you about a thing that's been growing on me for the past year and a half. No no, it's not a tentacle, though that would be cool as well. Okay maybe cooler. So it's actually a pity it's not a tentacle. I know one person who'd be thrilled if I grew one. But that is beside the point -and the rant- that I'm trying to make.

No, it's about digital art. Now before I start what will likely be the next straw or droplet that spills the bucket to make many get upset again, I'd like to state that I don't dislike all digital art pers?. In fact, there are many, many artists who do their digital thing really well. If I look at the work of Twincruiser for instance, I am smitten with warmth. It shows that you can really do impressive things with digital colouring and the like.

I was once fond of digital colouring. I would draw some things and scan them and photoshop away. I have some artwork I'm still proud of, hanging on the wall, shot and framed. But something was always nagging inside me. Something that slowly came out. I began more and more to appreciate analogue art. Something that was done by hand. To me, that was the real craft. I began to long for something more challenging, something that would look -I don't know- more real, more authentic. I grew weary of the pixelperfect glossiness of my digital creations. They were so flawless, so plastic, so utterly uninteresting.

And so, very carefully, I began to do things more by hand and less by mouseclick. August is very much an extension of that new path: a strip made almost completely by hand; sketching, inking, lettering. Only what cannot be done by hand is done by silicon: scanning, removing errors and balancing the page by adding blacks. But the core thing, the real deal, is done by hand, deliberately so.

And lo, I descovered painting! Never before did I feel so artistic, even though it didn't have the 'perfect' appearance of digital colour. But no, I revelled in the times that it showed where I had plummeted my brush too enthusiastically onto the paper, where the paint had smeared over the lines! The fact that it is flawed, that you are able to see that it's painted, by hand -it shows, it bloody well shows! No more dead virtual airbrushes, no more glossy fake colours that are actually transistor diodes (or whatever) in your monitor. Real colour -and it shows.

And you want to hear another reason? Why I am infinitely more impressed by a painting, no matter how flawed, than a radiant digital masterpiece? It's because I know there was danger involved. I know that the artist who made that painting was fucking aware every single second that one erratic movement could destroy his painting entirely. No easy escape route. No aces up the sleeve. No control-Z like you're playing for bacon & beans. It's just the artist and the painting; one will rise and one will fall. And it shows. It fucking shows.